Book Review: I Will Make You Pay by Teressa Driscoll.

Book Review: I Will Make You Pay by Teressa Driscoll.

Hello readers! For this week’s post, I will be reviewing the crime thriller I Will Make You Pay by Teressa Driscoll, but before we leap straight into my thoughts on the book, let’s read that trusty blurb shall we?

I will make you payEvery Wednesday, like clockwork, the terror returns.

It seems like an ordinary Wednesday, until the phone rings. A mysterious caller with a chilling threat. Journalist Alice Henderson hangs up, ready to dismiss it as a hoax against the newspaper. But the next Wednesday, the stalker makes another move—and it becomes clear that this is all about Alice.

Someone wants her to suffer, but for what? Her articles have made her a popular local champion—could it be her past rather than her work that’s put her life in danger? Alice is determined not to give in to fear, but with the police investigation at a dead end, her boyfriend insists on hiring private investigator Matthew Hill.

With every passing Wednesday the warnings escalate, until it’s not only Alice but also her family in the stalker’s sights. As her tormentor closes in, can Alice uncover what she’s being punished for before the terrifying threats become an unthinkable reality?

I am a huge fan of crime fiction and I am always particularly intrigued with stalker stories.  Horror films and books scare us by often wandering into the realms of the unrealistic and surreal but a stalker is something very real.  Stalkers exist, they terrorise and they have even killed.  It is a threat grounded firmly in reality and therefore one which will incite and rouse a particularly deep fear within the reader.  Driscoll’s stalker is particularly cruel, often taunting the protagonist, for example having someone throw a freezing cold liquid in her face so she momentarily believes it is acid.  A simple, seemingly innocuous act, it is after all just water, but in the context of her harassment and her intensifying fear this moment causes her great distress and trauma.

The protagonist Alice is for the most part believable and empathetic.  We understand through her narration the sheer panic and paranoia that can come as a result of someone targeting a person in such a way.  Suddenly every site she visits is a place she could potentially be attacked, every face in the crowd is possibly her stalker, every phone call another taunt or jibe.  She is torn between protecting herself and withdrawing from the potential dangers of the world, and having a normal life, in short refusing to let the stalker win and in doing so she often puts herself in further danger.  There were moments were her refusal to be completely honest with Police and to take their advice irritated me slightly, but I can understand why she would not want the stalker to succeed at ruining her life.

The book has enough action interspersed throughout to keep it fast paced and interesting, and features several twists and turns and the all expected red herrings.  Although I guessed the bad guy successfully (no spoilers here), I could not grasp the motive until towards the very end despite the fact that Driscoll provided all the necessary information to the reader for them to work it out.  I really admire any author who can keep a reader scratching their end until the end.  The fact that I guessed the identity of the stalker is not necessarily a poor reflection on the author, as I read and watch so much crime fiction and indeed, even write it myself, that I am rarely surprised but that is why the concealment of the motivation of this man alluding me was particularly exciting.

Over-all, this is a great read and one I would recommend for any fans of crime fiction.  I would give it a firm 4 stars out of 5.

* Note: I was sent this book on behalf of the author and Amazon Publishing. My review is honest opinion of the book.

Book Review: Bearmouth by Liz Hyder.

Book Review: Bearmouth by Liz Hyder.

Hello readers and welcome to my latest blog post.  This time I will be reviewing Bearmouth, the debut novel from Liz Hyder.  But, before we dive in and see what I thought, let’s have a look at that dependable old friend the blurb to find out exactly what this dark young adult book is about:

Life in Bearmouth is one of hard labour, the sunlit world above the mine a distant memory. Reward will come in the next life with the benevolence of the Mayker. New accepts everything – that is, until the mysterious Devlin arrives. Suddenly, Newt starts to look at Bearmouth with a fresh perspective, questioning the system, and setting in motion a chain of events that could destroy their entire world.

BearmouthI am not usually the biggest fan of young adult fiction but I found the subject matter and dark tone of this book very appealing.  Unlike a lot of books aimed at a younger or middle grade audiences, this author pulls no punches and refuses to sugar coat the harsh, grim reality depicted in the book.  On the surface, it is a book about friendship, loyalty and freedom but at its core it deals with the heavy subjects of capitalism, corrupt governments and organised religion with this novel being scathing about all three.

First, let’s look at the topics of capitalism and corrupt governments.  The system described in the book is a more extreme version of today’s society.  The poor are kept poor through low wages and the accumulation of debt.  The miners who work in Bearmouth are paid pittance and everything costs money, including their own equipment and clothing necessary to perform their duties, as well as a lift to the surface, so no one can afford to get out.  Management encourages further debt by presenting temptation to spend their money in in the form of alcohol, a welcome escape from the brutality of the mines but a perfect way to keep the men pliable and hard working.  It reminds me very much of the slaves of Egypt being fed beer by their masters.  The manager even sets quotas on a black board, saying continuously that they must increase productivity, even offering rewards (free beer of course) to the teams which gather the most coal.  Have you heard anything more capitalist?  Ignorance of the poor is also encouraged and the protagonist Newt is even told she is in trouble for her knowledge of writing and reading after one of her letters home is intercepted.  That’s another thing that seems strangely and scarily familiar about Bearmouth, the residents are spied on by the masters and any sign of dissent crushed as those who dear to question the status quo are labelled ‘awkward men’ and their already difficult lives made even worse.  When one of the characters Thomas dares to ask for a raise, his own bunk mates are offered money to spy on him and his friends.  A more modern version would of course be the interception of electronic communications by our own governments who have overstepped their bounds on more than one ocassion.  Any gatherings or groups are forbidden so any opportunity for rebellion or organisation such as a union is impossible.  The poor get poorer, the rich get richer and the divide between the two gets wider and wider…sound familiar?

Then there is the topic of organised religion.  The workers of Bearmouth are encouraged, bearmouth2and I use that term Kindly because it is more like forced, to follow a religion similar to most organised religions.  A deity, in this case ‘The Mayker’ created the world and the humans which inhabit it.  As the human’s proved ungrateful, they were punished and continue to be until a ‘sine’ is given that they are forgiven and set free.  All the workers must attend church on Sundays, the only time they are permitted to gather in a group, where prayers are spoken, songs sung and everyone asks for forgiveness.  Anything that happens, no matter how horrible, is ‘the maker’s way’ and should never be questioned lest you suffer his wrath.  The miners work themselves to death (literally) as they are told they will be rewarded in the next life.  The ‘Master’, the owner or perhaps manager of the mine, has been directly chosen by the Mayker himself and should therefore also never be questioned or doubted.

All the workers through their blind, unquestioning faith and loyalty to both the system and their religion, are easily controlled and manipulated.  It is only with the arrival of someone who dares to ask a simple question, to say a simple word, that others begin to question things themselves: WHY?

Bearmouth is a dark and interesting read presenting complex topics in an interesting and easily understood way.  Although the way in which it is written, with deliberate spelling mistakes, can be a little strange to get used to at first, I found it added to the naivety and vulnerability of the protagonist and allowed the reader to first understand why she does not question things and then journey with her as she begins to ask why herself, thereby making her journey and character arc seem more believable and relatable.  It is the perfect read for lovers of Young Adult looking for something a little grittier and different and I enjoyed reading it.  I would give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

**I was gifted this book by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.**

Book Review: Spinning Hair into Gold by Caitlin Keely Gemmell.

Book Review: Spinning Hair into Gold by Caitlin Keely Gemmell.

caitlin 2When I began reading Spinning Hair into Gold by Caitlin Keely Gemmell, I was immediately reminded of a quote by Wallace Stevens: “The poet is the priest of the invisible.”  I love poems and stories which tell us what we should already know about the world and that is the fact that in reality we still know so little.  Stories which hint and tease at the worlds within our own, of places and people and legends hidden from view perhaps, but visible to those who can see and this is exactly what this collection does.  Each story and poem is based upon a character created by Caitlin for a novel yet to be written.  A character that haunted her despite, or perhaps in spite of, never being fully formed on paper.  They are the glimpses into this story which had to be written and combined into the collection, they give the reader just enough of a hint of what Oriana and her fantastical tale may be, in order to feel compelled to know more.

The collection features several poems and short stories, all about Oriana and her as yet caitlin 1unwritten biography.  Stand outs for me were, ‘Oriana/Weaver of Fate’ a poem reminiscent of Greek mythology and ‘Oriana’s Cottage’ a short story depicting a meeting between a mortal and Oriana, glimpsing into her world of magic before returning to the mortal realm.  Whilst I enjoyed all of the writing separately and as stand alone pieces, they fit together to form a partial image of this mysterious character which enchants and inspires and it is through this collection of individual pieces, through them flowing from one to the other, that the picture becomes clearer and more fully formed.  I for one would love to read Oriana’s story in all of it’s glory now that my appetite has been wetted.

I was honoured to receive an ARC copy of Spinning Hair into Gold by Caitlin Keely Gemmell in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Unboxing: Books That Matter September Book Box.

Unboxing: Books That Matter September Book Box.

Hello readers!  For today’s post, I will be unboxing this month’s Books That Matter book box and I am particularly excited for this one.  Not only is it the box’s First Birthday (Happy Birthday guys) but in order to celebrate, it has an extra special, magical theme and one which could not be more up my street.  This month, the theme is (drum roll please) ‘Myths, Goddesses and Legends’, celebrating the women of Greek mythology.  As a fan of mythology and legends, I could not wait to tear into the box.  Before we see what is inside, remember you can use MARIE10 to save on a box all your own.

greek boxFirst and foremost, this month’s featured book is critically acclaimed Circe by Madeline Miller.  This book was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction this year and I have heard nothing but positive things about it.  I know they say not to judge a book by its cover, but it’s hard not to swoon over this beauty.  The cover is a stunning metallic, which I am always a sucker for, and perfectly captures it’s Greek, mythological inspiration.  So what’s it about?

Woman. Witch. Myth. Mortal. Outcast. Lover. Destroyer. Survivor. CIRCE.

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. Circe is a strange child – not powerful and terrible, like her father, nor gorgeous and mercenary like her mother. Scorned and rejected, Circe grows up in the shadows, at home in neither the world of gods or mortals. But Circe has a dark power of her own: witchcraft. When her gift threatens the gods, she is banished to the island of Aiaia where she hones her occult craft, casting spells, gathering strange herbs and taming wild beasts. Yet a woman who stands alone will never be left in peace for long – and among her island’s guests is an unexpected visitor: the mortal Odysseus, for whom Circe will risk everything.

So Circe sets forth her tale, a vivid, mesmerizing epic of family rivalry, love and loss – the defiant, inextinguishable song of woman burning hot and bright through the darkness of a man’s world.

This one has been on my to be read list for a while and now I really have no excuses not to read it.  Have you read this one?  What did you think?  As an extra special treat, there is an exclusive Circe postcard, beautifully frame worthy should you wish to express your love of Greek mythology.

As always, along side this month’s read, there is an array of perfectly picked goodies and greek box 3in this box, that metallic theme continues with a stunning 22ct gold plated star charm bracelet by CaruSer.  This really is one of those rare and extra special finds in a subscription box.  It is beautiful and I have no doubt it will become one of my go to jewellery choices.  There are also two metallic, and made hair ties by Cabellobands.  I am a firm believer that a girl can NEVER have enough hair ties (where do they vanish to) and I love the luxurious look of these.  Finally, there are two appliqué stickers of the Goddess Aphrodite and the nymph Daphne, along with a book mark featuring Medussa and Calliope, designed by the brand Myths and Tits. I adore the style and vibrancy of these beautiful images and I am already seeking a place to stick the stickers.

As always, Books That Matter present a thoughtful and inspirational box that not only sparks the joy in any reader, but delivers a clear and impactful feminist message.  This box is about giving the females of Greek mythology their rightful place.  No longer are they merely plot devices but feminist icons, given their own well deserved narratives.  Thank you so much for gifting me the box guys and remember, if you love it as much as I do, you can use discount code MARIE10 to save 10% on your own!

Unboxing: August Crime & Mystery My Chronicle Book Box.

Unboxing: August Crime & Mystery My Chronicle Book Box.

Hello readers, it’s that time again…time to open that beautiful blue box, pull out each book, all individually wrapped in brightly coloured paper and string like a series of wonderful presents, all signed by the authors, all perfectly chosen and just when you think you can’t possibly have a better day, there are the accompanying bookish goodies too. I love my quarterly my Chronicle Book Boxes and if you fancy trying one of your own, you can use MIRRORS10 to save 10% now!! So what does the latest Crime and Mystery box contain?

Our first featured book is Those People by award winning author Louise Candish: Until Darren and Jodie move in, Lowland Way is a suburban paradise. Beautiful homes. Friendly neighbours. Kids playing out in the street. But Darren and Jodie don’t follow the rules and soon disputes over loud music and parking rights escalate to threats of violence.
Then, early one Sunday, a horrific crime shocks the street. As the police go house-to-house, the residents close ranks and everyone’s story is the same: They did it. But there’s a problem. The police don’t agree.And the door they’re knocking on next is yours.

This one sounds like an enthralling read full of twists and turns and it’s definitely one I can’t wait to dig in to. Best part? It’s signed by the author herself and it’s a hardback.

Next up we have The Never Game by Jeffery Deaver, a fast paced thriller set in Southern California:

A student kidnapped from the park.
Nineteen-year-old Sophie disappears one summer afternoon. She wakes up to find herself locked inside a derelict warehouse, surrounded by five objects. If she uses them wisely, she will escape her prison. Otherwise she will die.
An investigator running out of time.

Sophie’s distraught father calls in the one man who can help find his daughter: unique investigator Colter Shaw. Raised in the wilderness by survivalist parents, he is an expert tracker with a forensic mind trained to solve the most challenging cases. But this will be a test even for him.
A killer playing a dangerous game.

Soon a blogger called Henry is abducted – left to die in the dark heart of a remote forest – and the whole case gets turned on its head. Because this killer isn’t following the rules; he’s changing them. One murder at a time…

This one sounds like one hell of a thrill ride reminiscent of the horror movie Saw and I’m always a fan of a serial killer story line. Again, this one is a hardback and it’s signed by the international best selling author himself.  I’m beyond excited to add it to my to read pile!

The final book is Tick Tock by Mel Sherratt, a gritty British Police procedural set in Stoke on Trent:

TICK… In the city of Stoke, a teenage girl is murdered in the middle of the day, her lifeless body abandoned in a field behind her school. TOCK Two days later, a young mother is abducted. She’s discovered strangled and dumped in a local park. TIME’S UP… Can they catch the killer before another young woman dies?

Again this sounds right up my street and it comes signed by the author herself. Each author has also given an exclusive interview which you will find inside your personalised, wax sealed envelope along with your spoiler card.

Alongside these epic thrillers, there is also a gorgeous scented candle by Bookwormmychronicle3 Candles and Crafts. This ‘Crime and Punishment’ themed, glittering beauty smells incredible with masculine tones of sandalwood and is exclusive to the box. There is an ‘I love Crime Fiction’ fridge magnet, perfect for proudly displaying your love for the genre and an exclusive engraved wooden bookmark to help you keep track of your reading progress. Shaped like a beautiful fish tail, it is a constant reminder to not be lured by an author’s red herrings!

This is another great example of well sourced books all of which I feel myself instantly excited about. This book box is such great value, always containing THREE books, all signed and all beautifully wrapped alongside carefully chosen, exclusive goodies and I will never stop gushing about it! Remember, if you want to get yourself a box you can save 10% using code MIRRORS10! And don’t forget to subscribe to my blog to keep up to date with all my latest unboxings, book reviews and pieces of original writing.

Book Review: The Fearing Book 2, Water & Wind by John.F.D.Taff.

Book Review: The Fearing Book 2, Water & Wind by John.F.D.Taff.

You know those rare books you find utterly impossible to put down? The ones you simply must digest in one sitting regardless of what chores need done or appointments you must keep? Well, this is one of those books. Short, fast paced & gripping this book draws you in and insists you don’t put it down again until you’re done.

fearing2Book two in The Fearing series picks up right where we left off, following our bus of terrified tourists, our love struck teens & of course the creepy Adam who seems to be the only one happy about what is happening with the world.  This book also introduces two new characters in the form of the good Reverend Mark, who brings a little theological perspective to the apocalypse and the mysterious Monday, a young girl who has lost her memory after a head injury but appears to know a lot more than she is letting on.

This book  begins to explore what is actually happening and why, positing two potential theories.  Is this the collective fears of the world merely being expelled from their ‘vessel’ once it became full to capacity as Charles posited?  Or perhaps this is the rapture as hypothesised by Reverend Mark and Monday?  The rapture makes sense as it would explain the distinct lack of corpses laying around, but then why were these people left behind?  They seem like a pretty decent bunch of people, hardly worthy of limbo, but even if they secretly have pasts or reasons to prevent them entering heaven outright, then what about the children?  The baby carried by the butterfly lady or the young member of the Reverend’s flock?  Surely those young souls would be sent to heaven being innocent and unsoiled by the world as of yet?  I am personally drawn to the collective fear theory.  I love the idea of the most concentrated fears being first, the ones held simultaneously by millions such as nuclear war or natural disasters, before the fears becoming more select and specific to the few survivors remaining.  This would definitely fit with what is happening in both books so far.  Could Adam be the ‘vessel’ in question?  He begins book one overwhelmed with fears and anxieties, but as they have become released and acted out on others he has described feeling ‘lighter’ and less afraid.  It was also explain his eery ability to know what everyone fears and how they will manifest.  But if he is the vessel, Pandora’s box unleashing woes on to the world, then who is Monday?

And that brings me to the best part of this series, the fact that it gets you thinking, it gets you theorising, driving yourself crazy trying to figure out what is happening and who will survive.  These books have everything you need in a good horror, believable and most importantly likeable characters with whom the reader sympathises, fast paced and well written action and an enemy that is a threat to all of us, including the readers: Fear itself.  I read both book one and two in one sitting each and I cannot wait to read the third and final instalment in the series…can I have my copy now please?

*Grey Matter press and the author provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.  Thank you to both!

Free Kindle Book & Amazon Giveaway.

Free Kindle Book & Amazon Giveaway.

My crime thriller Broken Mirrors is FREE on Kindle from now until Wednesday and to celebrate, I am running a giveaway on my Instagram and Twitter.  If you download a free copy and send me a screenshot (either via Twitter or Instagram) and you will be entered for the chance to win any book you want from Amazon (to the value of £15.00).  Head to my Instagram or Twitter now to enter and Good luck! You can get your copy free here.

brokenmirrorsBroken Mirrors:  When Marie moves from Belfast to London, she envisions a fresh start and an escape from a broken home. Once there, she meets Malcolm Carter, a charming, handsome man who sweeps her off her feet and gives her a life she could only have imagined. But Malcolm isn’t all he seems; he’s a criminal, a mobster and a murderer. Detective Fraser Duncan knows what he is, and he’s determined to take him down, but things get more complex when a rival and brutal gang leader appears on the scene, setting his sights on Malcolm’s empire. When Marie chooses to stay with Malcolm, regardless of what he is and what he has done, she starts down a path from which she can never return, and now she has been taken. Detective Duncan and Malcolm must set their differences aside and join forces in a race against time to save the woman they love.